Nesharabad in Pirojpur is now on its way to becoming one of the shipbuilding centers in the country. People from different parts of the country are flocking to Nesharabad in Pirojpur to build good quality trawlers, bulkheads, cargo, dredgers and other heavy vessels for less money. The shipbuilding industry here has developed recently. There are 25 dockyards along the river.
As the demand continues to increase, 25 small and big dockyards have been built on the river banks in different villages of this upazila without much planning. At present 200 heavy vessels are built in these dockyards every year. One and a half to two thousand more boats are being repaired.
Starting from small ships worth Rs 50 lakh, huge cargo ships worth Rs 10 crore are being built here at present. Around 500 crore rupees is being traded annually in this upazila. About seven thousand people have been employed. These dockyards are used to build and repair boats throughout the year. The owners and workers involved in the shipbuilding industry here have said that if they get training and government patronage, they will be able to contribute to the country’s economy by building high quality ships.
It is now well known that good quality ships can be built in Nesharabad for much less money. Because of this, the price of land in the dockyard here is very low. Added to that is a much lower wage for workers. The shipbuilding industry, which developed spontaneously without any government patronage, is a marvel. Although the expansion of trade and commerce in this upazila has been going on since the eighteenth century, the shipbuilding industry has developed recently. The workers here have to work hard. Just as they do not have adequate security, so too do hard work. This is a big crisis in the evolving shipbuilding industry.
That’s how it started
Spiral evening river, Nesharabad upazila on its banks. On the two banks of the Sandhya river, various businesses have sprung up since one and a half hundred years ago. The famous floating timber market, especially in the evening, has been playing a significant role in the region’s economy. According to the locals, the traders of this upazila have been involved in timber trade in the Sundarbans since the British period. At that time big wooden boats used to transport timber and golpata from the Sundarbans. Gradually wooden boats as well as engine-driven steel trawlers began to be used. Small dockyards were built to repair and build these trawlers.
Later, trade and commerce of the region developed around the Sandhya river. Boats became the main carriers for transporting goods and cargo by sea. Trawlers were first built in the dockyards due to demand. Initially started with trawlers, but now the dockyards are being used to carry 200 to 250 feet long cargo, with a capacity of two thousand to two and a half thousand tons.
Abu Saleh, a cargo owner from Sohagdal village in the upazila, said that four decades ago, Amjad Hossain from Sutiakathi village in the upazila brought a wooden motor boat. After seeing Amjad Hossain, many people bought engine driven boats. As the use of engine driven boats and trawlers increased day by day, dockyards were built for boat repairs. In these dockyards, wooden trawlers were first made and repaired. Abdul Barek and Rustam Ali of Barchakathi village of the upazila brought a steel trawler from Dhaka 35 years ago. A few years later, steel trawlers were built and repaired at the dockyard. Gradually the number of vessels increased. Due to low rent of local dockyards and low wages of boat builders, people from different parts of the country used to come here to build boats.
There are 25 small and big dockyards in Charchhina, Nanduhar, Kalibari, Balihari and Magura villages on both banks of Sandhya river. 200 docks are built in these dockyards every year. One and a half to two thousand boats were repaired. It takes 9-10 months to build a large vessel 200 to 250 feet long. It takes 5-6 months to build a medium sized 100 to 150 feet boat.
A large number of small and large businesses including workshops, hardware, steel sheets, welding rods, paint shops have sprung up here focusing on the shipbuilding industry. The owners of the dockyard said that the raw materials for shipbuilding were brought from Postagola in Dhaka, Bhatiari in Chittagong and Sitakunda. Besides, some raw materials are also imported from abroad.
Nasir Hawlader, 35, a local worker, said that at one time, skilled workers from different parts of the country were brought to work in the dockyard. The locals are working here after learning to work in the dockyard. Now most of the workers in the dockyard are locals.
However, the workers said that the fire caused while cutting or welding fell on the body and head of the workers and the whole body was injured. Lacking security, they work hard. “We lack security,” said Kamrul Islam, a worker. No helmets, no gloves. The daily wage is low. ‘
Amirul Islam of Natore is a shipbuilding contractor. He said traders from different parts of the country come to the dockyards of Nesharabad to make cargo, bulkheads and trawlers. The cost of building a boat is relatively low as the dockyard rent and wages of the workers are lower than other areas. A skilled worker earns Rs. 550 to Rs. 800 per day and ordinary workers Rs. 320 to Rs. 400 per day.
Need government patronage
Abdul Ghaffar Mridha, owner of Salehiya Dockyard in Charchina village of the upazila, said that at one time small boats including trawlers were made in the dockyard. Traders have been coming here for years to make large cargoes. However, the dockyard needs to be modernized to build larger vessels. This requires government patronage.
Nesharabad Upazila Executive Officer (UNO) said. Mosharraf Hossain said, “The dockyards here have been developed in different areas in isolation. An integrated dockyard is being discussed. Employers do not need to train workers. But we ourselves think that if they are trained dock workers, they will do better. We are trying to expand this industry. We have discussed with the higher authorities to further improve the dockyards. Hundreds of crores of rupees are spent annually on building and repairing vessels at the dockyards. It has provided employment to thousands of people, which is playing a significant role in the region’s economy. ”
Local Swarupkathi municipality mayor. Ghulam Kabir said, “There was no big industry in this region which is rich in trade and commerce. However, through the construction of ships, the potential shipbuilding industry has developed here. It has provided employment to thousands of people. We want to harness the potential of this industry. The cooperation of the government is needed for this. ‘
Team member of professional freelancer journalists.